Apr 092017
 

Sniffles, coughs and general malaise have been our companions this past week, so when this weekend rolled around, I was looking for a fun, relaxing project that would take my mind off how well I am not feeling. That project turned out to be a set of Easter cards based on layered background dies. I was introduced to these dies back in November, when I watched Jennifer McGuire’s video, Crafting On-the-Go and Simple Textured Cards. Afterwards, I purchased Birch Press Designs’ Delfina Layer Set.

The idea behind layered background dies is to add texture to the card you are making. The dies are all sized to fit a standard A4-sized card measuring 4-1/4 x 5-1/2 inches. You can cut two of these cards from one 8-1/2 x 11-inch sheet of card stock, so if you decide to make one of these layered background cards, you may as well do two, for efficiency’s sake.

The Delfina Layer Set is designed as three rectangular dies that all work together. You can use one, two or all three at a time, and they coordinate beautifully, adding an intricate-but-lovely texture to your card. In the photo below, you can see that I layered three white rectangles, one on top of the next. Jennifer McGuire suggests using dots of Ranger Multi Medium Matte to adhere the layers together. This works well not only because the adhesive is strong, but also because a wet adhesive allows you to shift the layers until you get them aligned just right.

To make my Easter cards, I decided to mix and match components from three different stamp sets, shown below:

I stamped the images with Tsukineko Brilliance Graphite Black Pigment Ink Pad because that’s what I have on hand, but not before doing a little research about what stamping inks work best with Copic markers, which I intended to use for coloring the images.

The last time I used Copic markers, I stamped the images with a pigment ink that took forever to dry, and did not agree well with the project, resulting in smeared ink. Many of my inks are older, so I figured someone out in Internet Land had already researched what I needed to know about stamping and Copic markers. Here’s what I learned:

After I colored the images I planned to adhere on top of the textured background layers, it was time to think about the sentiment I wanted to add to the cards. I really like the simplicity of thin sentiment strips, with white embossed text on black paper, that Jennifer often uses in her cards. Because the background of the cards is so intricate, a no-frills sentiment seems to work best. However, I do not have the library of sentiment stamps that Jennifer has, and did not want to purchase another stamp set just for the words, “Happy Easter.” My solution was a digital one that cost me nothing but the time to design it—a solution I can re-use by modifying it.

Using Microsoft Word, I designed graph paper and merged the cells of every other row to create sentiment strips. I shaded them in black, and centered text in white. Then I simply cut out the sentiment strips with scissors, and adhered them to the cards. If you click on the image above (or on this link), you can download my digital graph paper and modify the text for your own sentiment strips.

Below are the three Easter cards I crafted this weekend. I think using a layered background adds some nice texture to them, and suspect I’ll be using this technique again. Of course, at the moment I only own one set of layered background dies. They are costly at $69.99 a set, but you can use them over and over again.

There are different ways to add texture to your cards. Do you have a favorite technique?

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved

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Apr 032017
 

I read with interest that this past Saturday, April Fool’s Day, was International Tatting Day. No kidding. Now, I realize this may not be momentous news to you, but since tatting is on my list of needlework techniques to learn (yes, it really is), I had to look up who started this special day. And for those of you who don’t know what tatting is, it’s a type of lace created by a series of knots and loops using a shuttle that looks like a little boat. It’s not surprising, then, that in Germany tatting is known as Schiffchenarbeit, or “work of the little boat.”

This beautiful ebony tatting shuttle with rosewood inlay, crafted by Banyek in Hungary, is available on Etsy. Tatting shuttles are typically available in plastic or metal at your local fabric store or needlework shop.

Here’s a photo of a tatted Christmas ornament I bought some years back.

But before I researched the answer to who started International Tatting Day, I couldn’t help wondering whether there are also special days for crochet, knitting, weaving, embroidery and other fiber arts. Here’s what I learned; you can visit the links to learn more about each fiber craft celebration:

But back to my question about tatting—when did the annual celebration begin, and who started it? According to an article titled International Tatting Day, the holiday has apparently been around for 44 years, and it’s a day when tatting enthusiasts introduce the art to newbies, and eat chocolate. I guess that’s as good a way as any to start a tatting club!

If you missed International Tatting Day, as I am afraid I did, you can still catch up with more experienced tatters everywhere by stopping at your local grocery store for your favorite chocolate (mine is Lindt Classic Recipe Hazelnut).

Then, enroll in a Craftsy video tutorial called Shuttle Tatting with Marilee Rockley, and settle in for a nice, long watch. Alternatively, you can enjoy both a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate while browsing through Karen Cabrera’s library of YouTube tatting tutorials some Friday night when you’d rather stay home. If you’re not feeling that ambitious, you can still enjoy some chocolate and browse through these photos of tatted items available on Etsy—probably nearly as satisfying!

Clockwise, from top left: Tatted lace bracelet, by BardarSvetlanaLace / Tatted earrings with beads, by DescoTru / Tatted lace collar, by Felt Zeppelin / Tattered heart ornaments, by SnappyBirdCrafts

Clockwise, from top left: Tatted snowflake, by GracesLaces / Tatted bridal necklace, by Silhuette / Silk bridal purse with tatted lace, by Silhuette / Cotton bridal handkerchief with tatted edging and hand embroidery, by LaceAmour

P.S. Writing this post was more enjoyable than cleaning up the dishes after tonight’s dinner.

P.P.S. All chuckling aside, I do believe we fiber crafters take secret glee in having our own special crafting calendar. If you know of other fiber art holidays, please add them in the comments below.

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Mar 192017
 

Pulling together the supplies for a handmade card is in many ways like getting ready to color a coloring book page, except that you need more of everything—more tools, more coloring supplies, and more supplies in general. As I dragged my tools and supplies to the kitchen table for an afternoon of stamping, coloring, and gluing, I couldn’t help thinking that this was the grown-up version of the round table at which I sat with my kindergarten friends. In the center of the table was a basket filled with crayons; scattered at various locations were scissors and jars of white paste that got passed from one person to the next.

My task for this afternoon was a card for a baby shower to accompany a package that will be shipped tomorrow. I recently picked up a new stamp set that I thought would be perfect for this card, as well as another that will soon accompany a baby gift. The stamp set, called Rubber Duckies from Stampendous, includes some cute sentiments for new babies, as well as three ducks, a sailboat, a ribbon of bubbling water, and heart and star shapes.

I cut my card stock to size, and inserted a rectangle into my Misti stamping tool from My Sweet Petunia. If you’re not familiar with this tool, it’s a stamp positioner that allows you to arrange your stamps on the front of your card before you ink them. This is especially helpful if you are making duplicates of the same card, but even if you are not, it’s handy for previewing where your stamped images will sit on the paper, and for inking multiple images at once. It’s also great for those instances when the first stamping isn’t as bold as you’d like it to be and you need to re-stamp it. The tool does the stamp alignment for you; all you do is re-ink the stamp.

The Misti is one of several stamp positioning tools on the market. It comes in three sizes—the Memory Misti at $100 for a 12-1/4 x 12-1/4 inch stamping area, the Original Misti at $60 for a 6-1/2 x 8-1/2 inch stamping area, and the Mini Misti at $45 for a 6 x 4-3/4 inch stamping area. If  you are in the market for a stamping press, you’ll want to compare the Misti to the following other tools:

As you might expect, each tool has its strong and weak points, depending on what you are looking for and what your pocketbook will support. Although I have the Original Misti and have no complaints about it, if I were shopping today I would probably choose the Tim Holtz tool because it is so sturdy (at 2 pounds) and it is priced so reasonably.

But I digress.

After I had stamped my card, it was time to color the images with Copic markers. This was the part of the project that felt most like a coloring book page. When I was finished, I decided that the setting of the card—a bathtub—needed to look more like a bathroom. The bathtub walls, in other words, needed tiling. To achieve this effect, I scored horizontal and vertical lines a centimeter apart, with a scoring tool. Then, I cut a rectangle of royal blue card stock to frame the image, and adhered both to the front of the card. The last step was adding dimension to the bubbles, for which I used JudiKins Diamond Glaze. I probably could have used Glossy Accents by Ranger, but I couldn’t find my bottle.

I probably don’t produce handmade cards as frequently as I should, but it sure is a fun, relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon. How often do you make handmade cards?

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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